4th of July Ideas – Part 3 – Decorating

As Americans, we celebrate our independence on the 4th of July every year with parades, picnics, cook-outs, and other fun gatherings.  Nothing screams summer like an Independence Day celebration.

So, in honor of the upcoming holiday, I thought I’d share a few ideas for patriotic decorating.

I found this fun, inexpensive and easy idea on the Better Homes & Gardens website.  I don’t know about you, but I grew up with Better Homes and Gardens magazines, and I’m still amazed at all the great ideas that they can stuff into each issue as well as everything you can find on their website.  If you’re on a limited budget, you can sign up for their email and get lots of great ideas from that as well.

Decorate Candleholders with Colored Rubberbands: Take a stroll down the office supply aisle for red, white, and blue rubber bands to decorate candles in a snap. Working from bottom to top, wrap rubber bands in alternating colors around straight-side glass candle holders. Vary widths and colors for interest.  Of course, this can be applied to any holiday or decor and what an easy way to change color schemes in a flash!

Editor’s Tip: If you’re in mosquito country, place citronella candles in the cups and use outdoors to keep the bugs away.

And don’t kids just love pinwheels?  They’re just mesmerizing to watch when the breezes blow and the kids love to run around in the yard adding their own breeze.  The Skip to my Lou blog has some creative ideas for pinwheels as well as links to other free downloads.

Disney’s Family Fun gives us directions for a colorful Patriotic Pinwheel that you can make at home too.

And here are a few more links with some fun and simple ideas:

Better Homes and Gardens: Easy DIY Decorations

Country Living shares Crafts for the Fourth – country style

Martha Stewart shares some great Fourth of July Traditions that you can begin today.

I hope this gives you some inspiration for the coming weekend.  Feel free to mention and link in the comments to any Fourth of July ideas that you’ve posted on your own blog.  I’d love to see them!

30 Creative Uses for a Coffee Filter

I just received an email with 25 practical ideas for a coffee filter, so I thought I’d share them with you.  Then when I was looking for a photo of a basic coffee filter, I came across some awesome coffee filter craft ideas.  I’ll share 5 of the best of them as well.

Coffee  filters …. Who knew!   And you can buy 1,000 at the Dollar Tree for almost nothing even the large ones.
1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the  microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.
2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome…  Coffee filters are lint-free so they’ll leave windows sparkling.
3.  Protect China by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.
4.  Filter broken cork from wine.  If you break the cork when opening a wine  bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.
5.  Protect a cast-iron skillet.  Place a coffee filter in the  skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.
6.  Apply shoe polish.  Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.

7.  Recycle frying oil.  After frying, strain oil through a sieve  lined with a coffee filter.
8.  Weigh chopped foods.  Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a  kitchen scale.
9.  Hold tacos.  Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.
10.  Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot.  Line a plant  pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through  the drainage holes.
11..  Prevent a Popsicle from dripping.  Poke one or two holes as  needed in a coffee filter.
12.  Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows?  Use  strips of coffee filters..
13.  Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken  fingers, etc on them.  It soaks out all the grease.
14.  Keep in the bathroom.  They make great “razor nick  fixers.”
15.   As a sewing backing.  Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliquéing soft fabrics.
16.  Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.
17.  Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.
18.  Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.
19.  Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills. 20.  Can use to hold dry ingredients when baking or when cutting a piece of fruit or veggies..  Saves on having extra bowls to wash.
21.  Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.
22.  Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls. 23.  Use them to sprout seeds..  Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a plastic baggie until they sprout.
24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers.  Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in  phone book..
25.  Use as a disposable “snack bowl” for popcorn, chips, etc.


26. Gorgeous Roses (see photo above) from Mommy Makes Roses

27. Colorful Pompoms (photo right) from The Thrifty Crafter

28.  Coffee Filter Wreath from Martha Stewart

29. Natural Coffee Filter Garland (photo below) from Pam Garrison

30. Coffee Filter Snowflakes from The Artful Parent

List #13 DIY’s I Want to Try

I’m sure there are dozens of DIY’s in my crafts binder, but right now my mind is nearly blank.  Let’s see if I can get it warmed up…

1. Tile mosaics – I have 2 perfect metal tables from Ikea that would look so lovely with mosaic tops.

2. Jewelry making – looks so sparkly…

3. Outdoor garden architectural art  – for when I have a garden.

4. Pebble patio, paths or flooring – love them!

5. Landscape design – want to re-design the whole back yard, but who knows when we can get it done.

6. Sewing tote bags out of Starbucks Coffee packets – I’ve been collecting them for a couple of years.  Hopefully this will be the year that I do it with my new sewing machine.

7. Sewing birds for my branch  (aren’t these wonderful?)

8. Mini-tin Advent Calendar – so many designs to choose from

9. Sewing lots of pillows in lots of colors so I can change things up around the house.

10. Creating wall art out of my photographs

I just visited a one of the gals from 30 Days of Lists and love what she’s listed!

Thanks for the inspiration, Chris!

So many projects…so little time…

Chase Away Winter Blahs with Flowers

O.k., so the first day of Spring isn’t until March 20th, but actually here in Phoenix we start enjoying Spring weather quite early.  It was up in the 70’s all week and looks to continue in that same vein for a while.  Oh, we may get a few more cold days, but my guess is that we’ve already had our winter this year and although short-lived it was much colder than usual.

We had about a week straight with temperatures getting down below freezing at night and our plants in the front yard are pretty pathetic looking as a result.  I won’t bore you with those ugly photos, but I’ll share a little inspiration for those of you who might be stuck in the cold country and want to find a way to chase away those winter blahs.2010.Flowers in Spice jars

Here’s a great way to perk up your home with flowers and make a little bit go a long way.

Not long ago I was helping a group with decorating for an event.  Our budget was very tight or more accurately, it was non-existent, so I was trying to find a way to dress up the room without spending a lot of money.  So. here’s what we did.

I went to the local Goodwill Store and found this set of 10 spice jars that came with their own metal storage/carrying rack for a few dollars.  They were  dirty and some still had worn and torn labels on them.  Each one also had a silver screw-on lid, that isn’t in the picture.

I brought them home and washed them well.  Had to use a little bit of Goo Gone to get all the adhesive off the glass from the labels, but that didn’t take long.  Soon they were sparkling clean.

When it was time to use them for the event, I filled each jar with water, put the lid on and put them back in the holder that they came in.  You see the cool thing about having a carrying rack and lids for the jars was that I could transport all 10 of them with water without spilling a drop.  The event that we were setting up didn’t have easy access to water to fill them there, so I brought it with me.

Then I bought just one inexpensive bouquet of flowers at the local store.  Being in the city, grocery stores are great, but if you have a Costco nearby their flowers are always beautiful and very reasonably priced.  Of course, during growing season in the cold country you may have them growing in your backyard or available at a farmer’s market or roadside stand.  I trimmed the stems at home, then carried the bouquet in a plastic pitcher to the event and inserted the flowers in the mini-vases after we arrived.

With ten mini-vases we were able to put one vase of a few flowers on each table to add just a touch of fresh scent and color and make the ladies feel pampered.  I mean really – who doesn’t love fresh flowers!

And of course, you can use those precious little beauties all together for more impact (like in the photo above) or in any combination or groupings you can imagine.   What fun, right?  Imagine them lining your windowsill or scattered throughout the house to brighten up each room.  Or place them in front of a mirror for double the impact.

If you had these mini-vases how would you use them?  What other ideas do you have for spreading the wealth with your flowers?

Today I’m linking to:

Frugal Friday


Great Way to Re-purpose Christmas Cards

Are you like me and hate to throw away all those beautifully designed Christmas cards?  I always hold on to them thinking that there must be some way that I can re-purpose or recycle them.  Well here’s a fun and easy idea that can be used each year and is easy enough for youngsters to do it as well.

And the instructions are so easy!

Select a palette of coordinating hues to create a whimsical wreath. Cut greeting cards into different-size circles (or other fun shapes). Arrange the circles into a wreath shape, overlapping as desired. Secure with crafts glue. Machine-stitch over the top using coordinating or contrasting thread. Attach a ribbon to the wreath with a colored paper clip and hang.

In looking at this project, it might make it easier to cut out a donut shape as a base out of cardboard.  And if you don’t have enough coordinating colors in your greeting cards this year you can always keep the circles from one year to the next until you have what you need to make your wreath.

You could also cut up your Christmas or other card fronts to use as embellishments on your scrapbooking or other craft projects as well.

I found the idea along with many other great craft and organizing ideas at the Better Homes and Gardens website.  I love browsing through all their wonderful tips, and craft suggestions.  Sign up to get their emails and you won’t miss another helpful hint.

Or…here’s another idea!  How about using those greeting card circles to make a garland like Amy did here on Lemon and Raspberry?


Christmas Eve Traditions

In honor of “Journal Your Christmas” I thought I’d share a little bit about our Christmas Eve traditions.

Our special tradition on Christmas Eve is that we give each family member two gifts.  One is a brand new set of winter pajamas.  This is a ritual that I brought over from my childhood.   Growing up, it was always such a thrill to get new pajamas to replace the tattered or outgrown ones from the year before.  That way we’d be extra warm and cozy on what seemed to be the longest night of the year.

Kevin in Pajamas

Do you remember lying in bed trying to fall asleep so morning would come more quickly?  Or listening to every little noise wondering what was going on below the Christmas tree?  Our bedrooms were upstairs and the Christmas tree and presents were always in the living room, which was directly at the bottom of the stairs to the right.  I don’t remember ever trying to peek and see what was happening, but I do remember lying awake listening and letting my imagination run wild.  There were a couple of times that I had to go downstairs to our only bathroom after bedtime and my parents stood in the doorway to the living room or closed the door to the room, blocking any glimpse that I might be tempted to steal.  It’s all o.k. though, because the suspense of waiting is half the fun of the big day!

The other new tradition that Terry and I started was to give each child an ornament to open on Christmas Eve.  These days you can find creative ornaments of every shape, size and theme.  So each year we try to find an ornament that commemorates an event, hobby or theme particular to the year and the person.  When Kevin played soccer he got a soccer ball ornament.  When Amy was singing a lot we bought musical notes.  Amy also went through a ballerina phase and Kevin plays guitar so each of those are reflected in their ornaments.  We also started giving our son-in-law, Andrew ornaments.  Sometimes it’s easy when they have a life changing event or a big trip, but as they get older it’s not always so easy so we’ll have to see what happens now that they have homes of their own and their Christmas trees are getting quite full.

These are some of Kevin’s collection of ornaments.  Click to enlarge and see the detail. Aren’t they fun?

Christmas Ornaments

We don’t really have food or activity traditions on Christmas Eve.  The food is probably due to the fact that growing up we didn’t really have any special meals that night and as our kids were growing up there was never anything that everyone asked for over and over.  Is that a reflection on my cooking or the fact that the rest of the family likes variety just like I do.

Sometimes I wish we had established more traditions over the years when our kids were growing up.  Do you think  the holiday would be more meaningful to them if we had or is it good the way it was?  Hmmm, I wonder…

7 Ideas for Reusable Chalkboard Anything Tags

I’ve been working on this project for a few weeks, just due to time constraints, but I’m very excited to share it with you.  A few months ago I saw a post about using chalkboard paint to reuse some rectangular cardboard tags (sorry I don’t have the link) but it got my mind working.

I started thinking about the holiday season and just how much paper we go through and throw away when it comes to wrapping paper, ribbon and gift tags.  Then I thought about creating a re-usable gift tag and the ideas poured out from there.  As you’ll see below, the possibilities are endless. Let me know what other ways you would use these fun tags.

Step 1 – Find or purchase various sized tag or cardboard circles (or squares or whatever).  I bought all of mine at Michaels Arts and Crafts store.  The large ones were in the dollar bins.  They’re intended to be used as a 6 page mini book, but I just used each card separately.  The smaller ones were coasters in the clearance bin.  I think with the discount a set of 8 of them were just 26 cents or something crazy like that.  Buy a can of chalkboard paint, black or whatever color you choose.  Here they are ready to paint.

Step 2 – Gather other fun and creative supplies if you like.  Here are some of the items that I used.

Step 3 – Preferably outside or in a well ventilated room, lightly spray the tags with chalkboard paint.  Best to do two lighter coats to prevent drips.  Let this dry, and if you’d like, paint the other side.

Step 4 – After the paint has dried (at least 48 hours) the tags need to be prepped by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over each side.

Step 5 – Then erase the chalk.  This helps the paint to accept your writing better in the future.

Step 6 – If your shapes don’t have holes and you need them for your project, punch a hole in them.  I had to borrow a heavy duty hole punch to get through the thick cardboard on the coasters.  Fortunately the large circles already had holes in them.

Step 7 – Now comes the fun part!  Let’s see what we can do with these sexy little circles.  Here are a few ideas that I came up with…

Large Christmas gift tag

Large Snowflake Christmas gift tag

How Many Days till Christmas ?

Champagne or Wine Bottle Tag:

Birthday Gift Tags – As you can see this is very basic and very reusable.  I decorated the brown bag with chalk as well, but there’s so much more you can do for all kinds of gifts.

“What will you say” Garland – you can see the full version in my header at the top, but here’s a close up.

Anything Tag – I used this one to label our paper recycling basket, but of course it has a myriad of applications.

Update 1/1/2011: I found a couple of other party uses for these the other day too.  I used one to label my coffee urn so folks would know that it was decaf instead of regular coffee. I also hung the “recycle” one by our indoor recycle bin so people would know which bin was trash and which recycling. I love having them around to use wherever a label is needed.

I love the fact that the tags can be used over and over and over again. Let me know how this sparks your creativity.  I plan to use the rest of the small ones as gift tags this Christmas, unless I think of something else fun in the meantime.  Oh, we haven’t even begun to talk about Christmas ornaments or actual party coasters either!


week I’m linking to: